Brussels, The Dilemma...

The second day I was sorting out a lot of travel plans in the morning, and taking care of a bunch of airbnb guest questions for our own house. 

My biggest dilemma right now is that I have to be at my Megabus to Luxembourg before the transit starts running and I am over an hour away by walking… and I have a heavy backpack full of sailing paraphernalia. They also say in the e-mail that Belgium etc law requires passengers to print this e-mail and carry it with them for the entire trip. I have no printer. So was I going to get all the way to the Megabus in time, and then they wouldn't let me on? What kind of an archaic system is that. Even the airport doesn't require paper anymore.

I finally gave up trying to solve all my problems, and went to the flower garden greenhouses like my hosts suggested. The royal palace apparently opens them to the public a couple of times a year. The greenhouses were a long walk away, since the palace grounds are very large! Then I lined up and pains my e2.50. There was about 10,000 people there. There was miles of exquisite greenhouses, and a line that snaked through them and travelled at the speed of the slowest person in the line. Once you were in the line, the only way to get out was to follow the whole thing through. I pulled an Aodhan Mr Bean manoeuvre, and pretended that I had stopped to go to the bathroom and the rest of my family was up ahead. Pardon me, excuse me, oh thank you… It worked, and I was through the whole thing in less than an hour. (Instead of probably 3 or 4) No one seemed to mind, they all wanted to go slowly and look at each flower and plant, and take photos and oohhh and aaahh at the door to the ?Queen’s chambers?? perhaps, anyway it seemed to be a very special door and had guards at it who would not move one inch so that people could get a good photo. I went back to the apartment, got my mao and dropped my sweater because it was quite warm, and headed off to the giant Atomium statue. 

The statue was much bigger than I expected. You can go inside. Of course, being a holiday weekend, the line up to go in looked at least an hour long. I was really not that excited to go in anyway since I hadn't known you could. I skipped the miniature Europe village too. No miniature Eiffel Tower, & Arc du Triumph. No miniature Brandenburg Gate, no little windmills and no tiny Castles. 

I went back to my apartment and walked downtown to where the Megabus leaves. I followed my route on my phone. It is pretty straight forward. The route went right through the area that my hosts said was dangerous. There was a lot of Middle Eastern stores and Turkish stores and African stores. I wonder how much of it is the higher poverty in the new immigrant area that makes people more desperate, and therefore increases the crime rate, and how much is a bias equivocating new immigrants with crime. I am sad to say that I think it is more the latter. 

I had several groups of people stop to ask me if I had found Jesus. They told me that Jesus could help me. I told them that unless Jesus could get the Public transit to start running an hour early Sunday morning, he couldn’t really help me. They offered to pray for me. I told them I did not need their prayers right now, But if they wanted to they could pray at 5-6am. They promised to pray for me then, and I think they probably did. It took me an hour and twenty minutes to walk to the bus with no pack. I will have to start at 4:30am. I talked to two British tour bus drivers. They reminded me of Stan and his mate from an old British sitcom called On the Buses. They were driving a busload of Indian tourists on their way from London to Amsterdam. With two drivers, they are allowed to go 21 hours without stopping to sleep. Two of their people had gotten themselves lost and they were waiting an hour extra all ready for them. They said that because people were late, they missed the ferry from England the night before too and that was another 2.5 hour delay. They were at the ends of their tethers and still had to drive all the way to Amsterdam from Brussels… 

I did get up at 4:30, since my 4:15 alarm didn't go off. I packed up quickly and took off. I am really glad I waked it the night before, because all the landmarks showed me that I was going the right direction, and I didn’t need my phone to check the directions until I was downtown. I missed my turn that would take me around the outside of the rabbit warren streets, so I had to weave my way through the tiny lanes. People were still winding their way home after a night of partying for the Pride celebration. I found the Central station, but now that I was coming from the other direction and because it was still twilight and because I was exhausted from walking with the heavy pack, I couldn't locate the street with the buses. I finally asked a taxi driver, and he pointed me in the right direction. I was just around the corner from it. 

The Megabus showed up at 6:15, and was happy to check me off from my i-phone didn't ask for a printed ticket. I breathed a sigh of relief and sat down to enjoy my early morning trip to Luxembourg in my absolutely sweat soaked tee-shirt.

The lovely palace greenhouses

I don/t think I have ever been in a greenhouse stairwell...

And another set of steps that goes down to an archway with high glass above it. It joins two greenhouses on a hill, one above the other

The view overlooking the city of Brussels to the south. The little grey blob at the back centre of the photo is indeed Brussels.

Atomium. It was bigger than I thought

The balls have windows in them - not sure if you can go in all of them, or exactly how you get to the outer ones, are there slides? I guess I should have gone inside, or, I can just look it up on google images...

This is cool - this is in the middle of a main roadway. There is a nice green boulevard. the paved patches are walking paths, but on the far side, what looks like plain grass, actually has railroad tracks running through it. The tram cars go there, but other than that it is a lovely park - Maybe if they put that here, people would let their dogs and kids play on the tracks. I think Europeans must be smarter since they can obviously handle it.